Darko Novic: Entente Setif coach plots Al Ahly upset in African Champions League

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Entente Setif coach Darko NovicDarko Novic has spent time coaching the Libyan national team

Entente Setif coach Darko Novic hopes to draw on his previous experiences in the African Champions League as he plots an upset against holders Al Ahly in the semi-finals.

The 50-year-old Serb faced the Egyptian heavyweights in the last four in 2007, when he was assistant to Branko Smiljanic at Libyan side Al Ittihad.

"It was a very good experience because I watched how Branko dealt with that match and how to prepare a strategy," Novic told BBC Sport Africa.

"I was in my first year in Libya and second year as a coach. After that, Al Ahly did a lot of good things and wrote history."

Al Ahly won that two-legged tie 1-0 on aggregate but went on to lose the final to Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel.

However, since then the Cairo-based giants have won five more African Champions League titles, including the past two, becoming record 10-time winners.

"Of course, now is totally different match, with a totally different environment," Novic added.

"I am very happy because I will face the biggest club and get more experience for myself. The level is so high, teams are very well prepared."

Novic has coached and managed across North Africa and in the Middle East, including spells with the Libyan national team and Tripoli-based Al Madina, but he was thrust into the limelight last weekend after being placed in charge of Algerian outfit Setif for the second leg of their quarter-final against Esperance of Tunisia.

A first-half goal from captain Abdelmoumene Djabou was enough to seal an away win and a 1-0 aggregate triumph, giving Novic a famous win in his first match in the dugout.

Entente Setif players celrabate their 1-0 win over Esperance of TunisiaNovic is looking to lead Entente Setif to a third African Champions League title

"To win in Tunisia is not easy at all, because you have a high quality team in front of you," he said.

"My problem was how to compete with them, and how to keep my players in high level of concentration and give them confidence.

"You need to concentrate, have a little bit of luck and keep compact in the whole match. At the end it was good for us, giving us the chance to play the next round."

Serb looks to seize chance with Setif

Novic will face one of Africa's most successful managers, Pitso Mosimane, when Setif visit Ahly in the first leg of their semi-final.

South African Mosimane is aiming for his fourth Champions League triumph, having won with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016 before guiding Ahly to back-to-back victories.

Novic understands that fans of Setif, who won the continental crown in 1988 and 2014, have big expectations, but he is not looking too far ahead himself.

"When you are a coach you aspire to do something big, and when chances appear you try to take them," he said.

"I think in North Africa every big team has a great and large group of supporters. Their expectations are always to be at the top, but you can't promise such things. What you can only promise is good work and respect.

"Really, I don't think about the future. We will going from match to match and after that we will see where we are. I feel like I have been here for long time ago and, for me, that's enough."

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